The Future of Truck Driving Jobs
Much discussion has been made over the future of truck driving jobs. Like any career field, it is important to understand your options, goals, and path towards your goal. The conversation driven from automated truck driving is at the front of the future of the trucking industry. While the truck driving industry is making changes, there is still much to look forward to as you explore and grow in the truck driving industry. To understand the future of trucking more, we’ll review short term future and long-term future of truck driving jobs by asking a few questions and addressing each one.
What is the short-term outlook on the future of trucking?
The short-term future of trucking driving jobs is excellent! According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the truck driving industry is expected to grow by 6% each year. Based on the official BLS figure of 1.8 million truckers, this is an increase of 108,000 jobs each year through 2026. This has already created a shortage of CDL truck drivers even with all the talk of automated truck driving.
The shortage is heightened by the fact that the average truck driver is 55 years old. This means many older truck drivers, with all their experience, will be lost. The need to fill these positions cannot be satisfied with self-driving trucks as the technology is not available yet to match the skills of a highly trained professional truck driver. This creates a huge need in the short term for experienced or highly trained truckers.
A contributor in both the short-term and long term affecting the future of truck driving jobs is growth in online shopping. More packages are being delivered into city centers that require highly skilled and trained truck drivers to maneuver in small and congested spaces.
What is the long-term outlook on the future of truck driving jobs?
The long-term future of truck driving jobs is also said to be relatively safe due to the many road-blocks automation will face over the next few decades. However, it is seemingly inevitable that trucking jobs will eventually be affected by the development of automated truck driving and self-driving trucks. That doesn’t mean trucking jobs will be gone altogether, they may look a little different. As professionals, it is our responsibility to keep up with trends to continue providing for families. Fortunately, the shift to autonomous trucks will be a long process and still provide great opportunities for those who obtain the right skills now. Two major roadblocks for automated truck driving continue to be regulation and technology.
Regulations over self-driving trucks are far from concrete. That’s one reason why we have seen such low adoption rates of the technology. There are far too many legal questions over liability. States will have their own opinion on who and how much legal responsibilities software and manufactures will have in the event of an accident. If there are no national laws to govern, a company would need dozens of permits, licenses, insurance policies and much more.
The technology itself is also a challenge for adoption further protecting the future of trucking jobs. You know how hard it can be to back up an 18-wheeler. Human and human judgment is what allows a truck to get into these difficult maneuvers. And the technology is expensive. Imagine going to your carrier and asking for $100,000 (software costs) to update your truck. You would be laughed out of the office at best. We already see even when self-driving trucks are deployed, there is still a human onboard for oversight and difficult situations
As discussed before, the growth of online shopping will protect the future of the truck industry for years to come. This is a great opportunity for the future of trucking. The discussion for practical adoption of self-driving trucks is using terminals outside of major population centers. In the proposed plan, automated truck driving would be used for the long stretches of highway that take you away from your friends and family with little traffic. Once the load has been delivered to the terminal, future truck drivers would take the loaded haul into population centers where human judgment is needed most to safely deliver goods to final destinations. This would include not just packages to homes but goods to shopping centers such as Home Depot, Wal-Mart, grocery stores and more.
The future of truck driving jobs is evolving. In the short term, truck driving jobs will continue to be in demand. The job market will be supported by a growing need for drivers, shrinking workforce through retirement, expensive autonomous trucking technology and lack of regulation. The growth of online shopping will put create further demand for trained truck drivers for local deliveries.
If you have questions about the future of trucking, the future of truck driving jobs or how to obtain the skills now to take advantage of the opportunities, send us a message!